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Overflow Interest, Overflow Seating

March 6, 2010
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(This title graphic comes from http://www.lyndonstate.edu/AboutLyndon/ProgramsInstitutes/ConferenceOffice/ConferenceSeatingOptions.aspx )

Overflow Interest, Overflow Seating

The HIMSS meeting was clearly well attended, and that included the keynote presentations, with industry notables including David Blumenthal, Barry Chaiken, and " Sully" Sullenberger III, US Airways pilot, to name only a few of the exciting ones. As a result, the room and overflow rooms were apparently packed, with the back and side walls populated by a standing room only audience.

And yet, there were plenty of seats vacant in both rooms, probably 10% to 20% of the seats in fact, based on what I observed.

What happened and who cares?

Well, as shown in this exemplary picture, long rows of seats were accessible from too few aisle entrances. To complicate matters, many conference attendees were wheeling roller bags for their briefcase/laptop needs. This makes internal seats logistically inaccessible. Long rows of seats with one aisle entrance for an enclosed 15 or more seats doesn't support conference attendee needs.

This part of the story is only slightly more complicated, but in an important way. Conference goers need to be able, on an individual basis, to come late and/or leave early. The number of activities and locations that many attendees need to harmonize creates a geometrically large inflow and outflow demand on a large percentage of the seats. This is the real use case. "Congress Seating" with one aisle on either end of a long row of seats doesn't match HIMSS conference attendee needs.

Sure, adding more aisles will cut down on the total number of seats. It would, however, simultaneously increase the number of effective seats in both the main keynote speaking venue and the overflow rooms.

HIMSS, being a Systems Society and all is always looking for ways to improve. Is seating an opportunity? Should HIMSS planners care? What are your thoughts.

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